Axed F1 director Masi: 'I was the most hated man in the world'

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Former Formula One race director Michael Masi has revealed he received death threats following the conclusion of last season, declaring he was "the most hated man in the world".

The Australian came under intense scrutiny for his handling of the controversial final race of the 2021 F1 season in Abu Dhabi, which subsequently saw Red Bull's Max Verstappen beat Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to the world title.

Masi did not follow the F1's procedure behind the safety car for the late restart, only allowing the lapped cars between Verstappen and Hamilton to pass rather than them all, which left Hamilton defenceless as Verstappen swiftly overtook him to clinch his first world title.

An investigation found Masi had failed to follow the rules and he was removed from his role in February, before leaving the FIA entirely earlier this month.

Criticisms directed towards Masi were not just professional, however, who has spoken about the abuse he sustained in the aftermath of last season's finale.

"There were some dark days. And absolutely, I felt like I was the most hated man in the world," he told Australia's News Corp.

"I got death threats. People saying, they were going to come after me and my family.

"They were shocking. Racist, abusive, vile, they called me every name under the sun.

Michael Masi
Michael Masi

"And they kept on coming. Not just on my Facebook but also on my LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a professional platform for business. It was the same type of abuse.

"I didn't want to talk to anyone. Not even family and friends. I only talked to my close family but very briefly.

"It did have a physical impact, but it was more mental. I just wanted to be in a bubble. I had no desire to talk to them. I just wanted to be alone, which was very challenging. The whole experience has made me a much stronger person."

Ahead of the 2022 season, F1 made several changes to race procedures, with two race directors now sharing responsibility over the course of the season.

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